Miss America says farewell to its swimsuit competition, embracing 'whole new era

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Miss America
Miss North Dakota Cara Mund reacts after being named Miss America in 2017. The event announced they plan to end
Noah K. Murray | AP

Miss America is waving goodbye to its swimsuit competition, scrapping one of its most iconic elements in an attempt to shift the annual ceremony's emphasis away from its longtime focus on contestants' physical beauty.

"We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition," Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of Miss America's board of directors, announced Tuesday on ABC's Good Morning America. "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That's huge."

Carlson, who won the Miss America competition herself in 1989, says the change is intended to change the very nature of the program — and it will begin all but immediately. The move will be put into effect when the next edition is held on Sept. 9 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Cara Mund, who holds the current title of Miss America, welcomed the move as ushering in a "whole new era," emphasizing it with a tweet depicting a bikini going up in smoke.

"Whatever they choose to do," Carlson said, "it's what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in."